Common Vole

Microtus arvalis

Present from Western Europe to Eastern Kazakhstan, populations of voles experience large fluctuations at the local but also global scale. They are not only prolific but also capable of causing considerable damage. For a long time, their presence was detected only after total devastation of crops.

Key Statistics
  • For example, an increase in density from 150 to 2000 individuals/ha during the first four months of the growth of a temporary grassland causes a loss of 87% of the final production.
  • Another example, evolution of their population from 25 to 400 individuals/ha over four months does not result in to loss.

Plump body, round head, short ears, small eyes, hairy tail shorter than the body. Common vole measures between 9 and 12 cm, with brown-gray fur, lighter on the belly side.

Consequences of their presence on the harvest

Common voles eat leaves, either on site or taking them in to galleries they digs. We can observe a gradation in their food selection: They start with young seedlings, follow with final seedlings, and finish with fresh leaves of taller plants. In case of intense intra-species competition, voles do not show such discrimination.
Digging of many galleries can also lead to the loss of some plants (whose roots are attacked).

At the European level, we can signal an attenuation of risks of devastation of harvest. This phenomenon is attributed to transformation of agricultural practices, monitoring of population, and the implementation of preventive treatments.

Population Control

In general, it is very difficult to control vole populations, especially during proliferation period. However, there are treatments applied on a large scale in order to maximise effects.
Concretely, one of the most popular treatments is spreading of Chlorophacinone treated grains in lines (alignment is important, otherwise grain piles can affect other mammals).
For the protection of small plots, inserting metal plates into the ground at the depth of 30 cm provides more than satisfactory results.

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